Kevin Kay is one of the most important figures in the history of MMA. He greenlit UFC on Spike and advocated for Bellator to Viacom. He has played a massively influential role in MMA's growth. This is shocking and sad. https://t.co/zXr4rtUzks— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) October 25, 2018
Kevin Kay, the Viacom executive who was instrumental in getting the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Spike TV more than a decade ago, is no longer with the network after some restructuring at Viacom.
Kay spent over two decades at the network, and was a central figure in Spike’s rebranding process into Paramount Network, which is now home to Bellator MMA. Kent Alterman will serve as Kay’s replacement in handling Paramount Network, Bellator and TV Land alongside Comedy Central.
Back in 2004, Kay took a chance on a reality TV show called “The Ultimate Fighter” and green lit the project. The program was instrumental in the UFC’s growth, and the finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar is largely credited with saving the company and expanding its viewership to make it the commercial and financial juggernaut it is today.
Although UFC left the Viacom-backed network after signing a monumental broadcast rights deal with Fox back in 2011, Kay oversaw the network’s handling of Bellator MMA.
Viacom CEO Bob Bakish released a memo on Thursday detailing the changes and larger restructuring efforts the network is currently undergoing:
“Kevin [Kay] is a passionate storyteller whose legacy at Viacom spans more than two decades and seven networks, and I’m thankful to him and his team for their many contributions. At Nickelodeon, Kevin left his mark by overseeing a string of hits that included All That, Kenan & Kel and The Adventures of Pete & Pete — as well as developing and greenlighting SpongeBob SquarePants. And during his tenure at Spike, he oversaw the launch of fan-favorites like The Ultimate Fighter, Lip Sync Battle, Bar Rescue and Ink Master, as well as the expansion of Bellator.
“Most recently, he and his team undertook the huge task of launching Paramount Network. Thanks to their hard work, Paramount Network quickly established itself as a home for premium content, achieving early critical and ratings success with the high-quality, cinematic original series Waco and Yellowstone — the latter of which is now the second-most-watched cable series of 2018. All of this while also ensuring that TV Land and CMT continue to be dominant forces in the very important audiences they reach.”